Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Asia
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Asia: Vols. XXI–XXIII.  1876–79.
 
Asia Minor: Troy
Cassandra
Friedrich von Schiller (1759–1805)
 
Translated by J. H. Merivale

JOY in Troja’s courts abounded
  Ere the lofty ramparts fell;
Hymns of jubilee resounded
  From the golden-chorded shell.
Now from fields of strife and slaughter        5
  Rests at peace each valiant head,
While to Priam’s fairest daughter
  Peleus’ godlike son must wed.
 
There, bedecked with boughs of laurel,
  Where the columned fanes extend,        10
Troop on troop, in bright apparel,
  To the Thymbrian’s altar bend.
Through the streets the Bacchic madness
  Rushing comes with hollow swell,
And on thoughts of silent sadness        15
  One alone is left to dwell.
 
Joyless most where joy exceeded,
  Did Cassandra’s footsteps rove,
Lonely, desolate, unheeded,
  Through Apollo’s laurel grove.        20
Mid the forest depths slow winding
  Wandered the prophetic maid,
And, her sacred locks unbinding,
  Flung to earth the mystic braid.
 
“Joy forgotten—bliss forsaken—        25
  Each exulting bosom shares;
And the sires new hopes awaken,
  And glad pomp the sister wears.
I alone must inly sorrow,
  Whom the sweet illusions fly,        30
Who behold the fatal morrow,
  Winged with ruin, hover nigh.
 
“Lo, a torch! I see it flaring—
  Not, alas! in Hymen’s hand—
In the clouds behold it glaring,—        35
  But ’t is not an altar-brand.
Lo! the festal board they ’re spreading;
  But my full foreboding mind
Marks the fateful footsteps treading
  Of the gloomy god behind.        40
 
“And they call my moaning madness,
  And they mock my bosom’s smart:
Lonely then, in silent sadness,
  Let me wear my burdened heart.
By the happy shunned, discarded,        45
  Scorn of pleasure’s frolic ring,
Heavy falls thy lot awarded,
  Pythian god!—remorseless king!
 
“Wherefore hath thy fatal kindness
  My awakened sense decreed,        50
In this land of utter blindness
  Thy dark oracles to read?
Visual sense too perfect lending,
  Why withhold the warding power?
It must fall—the doom impending,—        55
  Must draw on—the dreaded hour.
 
“Wherefore lift the veil, where terror
  Darkly hovering threats our breath?
Life itself is naught but error,
  And to know—alas! is death.        60
Hide, O, hide fate’s dreary portal!
  Make mine eyes from blood-stain free!
’T is a fearful thing, the mortal
  Vessel of thy truth to be.
 
“My blest ignorance restore me,        65
  And the joys that once were mine!
Ne’er came strains of gladness o’er me
  Since my voice hath echoed thine.
Thou, the thankless future giving,
  Didst the present render vain;        70
Vain the hope, the bliss of living,—
  Take thy false gift back again!
 
“With the bridal chaplet never
  Might my perfumed locks be crowned,
Since thy servant I, forever,        75
  At the altar’s foot was bound.
All youth’s spring-tide sorrow-shaken,
  Life consumed in ceaseless smart,
Each rude shock by Troy partaken
  Smote on my presaging heart.        80
 
“Treading light youth’s sportive measures,
  Others wake to life and love,—
All who shared my childhood’s pleasures;
  I—can only anguish prove!
Spring, that clothes the earth in glory,        85
  Brings no rapture to my mind.
Who that reads life’s coming story
  Aught of bliss in life can find?
 
“Polyxene! for blest I hold thee,
  Who, in bright illusions dressed,        90
Think’st this night he shall enfold thee,—
  He—of Greeks the first and best.
See, with pride her bosom swelling—
  Transports she can scarce contain—
Heavenly powers! yourselves excelling        95
  In the dream that fires her brain.
 
“I too saw him, whom my beating
  Heart its bosom-lord proclaimed,—
Saw his beauteous face entreating,
  With the glow of love enflamed.        100
Then, methought, with him how brightly
  Might my days domestic shine!
But a Stygian vision nightly
  Stepped betwixt his arms and mine.
 
“All her pallid spectres yonder        105
  From the queen of night repair:
Wheresoe’er I walk or wander—
  Grisly shapes!—I see them there.
Even while frolic youth ran bounding,
  Thronging still they on me pressed,        110
Ghastly crowds my path surrounding.—
  No! I never can be blest.
 
“Murder’s steel—I see it glancing;
  Murder’s eye—I see it glare.
Right or left my sight advancing,        115
  Horror meets me everywhere.
Though I fain would ’scape, unwilling,—
  Knowing, shuddering, fixed I stand,
And, my destiny fulfilling,
  Perish in the stranger land.”        120
 
Scarce the voice prophetic ended,
  Hark! wild clamors rolling spread,—
At the temple gate extended,
  Thetis’ mighty son lies dead.
Discord rears her snaky tresses;        125
  All the gods afar have flown;
And the thunder-cloud thick presses
  Heavily o’er Ilion.
 
 
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